Desiree Wallace, the mother of Darrell Wallace Jr., said her son would not be intimidated by someone placing a noose in his garage stall at Talladega Superspeedway.
“I didn’t raise him that way,” Desiree said when she called into The Joe Madison Show on SiriusXM Radio.
Desiree said Bubba Wallace called her Sunday night and informed her that someone had committed a “hate crime” against him. Once he told her the specifics, Desire said Wallace looked defeated, and she had to collect her thoughts and find a way to respond.
“I said, that was an act of fear,” said Desiree. “They’re more afraid of you than you are of them.”
NASCAR is working with the Birmingham office of the FBI to investigate the incident. A team member of Wallace’s No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports team found the noose and alerted officials. Wallace did not see it, and was informed of what happened by NASCAR President Steve Phelps.
Phelps was adamant that the action would not be tolerated, and said that a lifetime ban will be among the ramifications for the responsible party.
Before the field took the green flag Monday afternoon at Talladega, the garage area gathered together and pushed Wallace’s car to the front of the grid in a show of solidarity. His fellow drivers greeted him, and team owner Richard Petty stood with him.
The investigation is ongoing, and while NASCAR declined to offer specifics about cameras in the garage area, Desiree Wallace said there are cameras, but not where the noose was hung.
“Everybody thinks the cameras were around there, they know who done it. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple,” she said. “But they do have a roster, they have names of who was allowed in the garage, so they have that much. But they’re going to have to figure out exactly where it came from; if it was one person or several people involved.”
“If it is an insider as far as NASCAR; I’m just praying it’s not one of his team,” Desiree continued, admitting she did ask Bubba if he thought that was a possibility. “He’s like, ‘absolutely not, Mom. But I don’t know. I can’t be 100 percent sure.’ But it’s somebody within the walls of NASCAR, and that makes it even sadder.”
Wallace joined the Petty organization in 2017 and is the only Black driver in the Cup Series. Amid the events of the last month, with civil unrest sweeping the country following the death of George Floyd in police custody, Wallace has established an increasingly visible and vocal presence on racial inequality. He has urged the NASCAR industry to do the same.
Desiree explained to Joe Madison this is the first incident – of this magnitude – that Wallace has experienced in racing. However, she said it is not the first time that Wallace has experienced hatred in his racing career.
“He’s been involved with incidents on the track, (and) if he gets into it with another driver, they quickly throw up the n-word, and he’s been told he doesn’t belong here,” said Desiree. “We’ve been through all of that. The only thing I teach my son is you don’t throw back at them, you just get in that race car and win. That’s the way you fight back.”